On Dillon Gee moving to the bullpen

Dillon GeeThe Mets finally did the right thing and removed Dillon Gee from the rotation. However, the veteran was less than thrilled with the news. Here was his take on the situation:

“I kind of feel like any value, if I had any at all before this, it’s probably gone. I mean, what am I going to do out of the pen, so I feel there’s not a lot of good that comes from it.”

You don’t get to the majors without being competitive and believing in your abilities. So, on the one hand, Gee’s declarations are understandable and perhaps even admirable. However, as coaches have preached for seemingly forever, the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back.

Gee is not one of the five best starters for the Mets. He wasn’t one of the best five on Opening Day but got the gig due to his veteran status on the club. He wasn’t one of the best five heading into Spring Training and, even with his veteran status, only got an undeserved leg up once Zack Wheeler was lost for the season.

At some point last year, Gee stopped being one of the top five starters on the club. After starting the year off great, Gee did one of his typical Jekyll-Hyde things and finished the year with a 5.10 ERA over his final 13 starts. Many will say that he was not healthy when he returned from the DL, a point Gee himself refutes. Additionally, his first start back was 7 IP and 1 ER against a Braves team that came into the contest eight games above .500, hardly the line you’d expect from an injured pitcher.

So, in his last 19 games, Gee has a 4.90 ERA. This type of pitching is one that you scheme to get out of the rotation, not into the rotation. It was head-scratch worthy why they went to a six-man rotation for even one turn through the rotation.

The stated reason is that they were going to do this to preserve innings for the youngsters. Perhaps they finally recognized that it was less than ideal to take away starts from guys with ERAs under three to give them to a guy with an ERA pushing five, especially given the offense’s struggles to score runs with over a third of the preferred lineup on the disabled list.

Sometimes when you delay making a decision, the reason is to put off the pain for as long as possible. But in this particular instance, delaying the six-man rotation for later is one that makes perfect sense. Right now the Mets need to maximize the starts for Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, guys who can shut down the opposition and give the team a chance to win when it scores three runs or fewer, like the offense has done in 11 of its last 19 games.

The decision can be reviewed in two weeks, when hopefully both Travis d’Arnaud and Daniel Murphy – and perhaps Dilson Herrera, too – have returned from the DL to bolster the offense. It will never be ideal to wait extra time for a Harvey start, yet if it has to be done, let’s do it when the offense doesn’t crater after the fifth spot in the lineup.

And the extra benefit to waiting is that the sixth pitcher can be someone besides Gee. Steven Matz certainly looks ready and two weeks from now he’ll likely have cleared the Super Two deadline, as well as moved within shouting distance of the team’s artificially imposed 100-innings minimum at Triple-A. If Matz struggles after a few starts, hopefully by then Rafael Montero will be ready to step in and get an extended shot.

Gee is a very streaky pitcher. It’s certainly possible that if given a chance, he’d rip off a dozen Quality Starts. It’s also possible that he’d continue his lousy pitching from his last 19 outings. The truth is we have absolutely no idea which version of Gee we would get.

The alleged benefit of going with the veteran is that you know what he’s going to give you. But Gee doesn’t give you that at all. The only rational thing to do is to look at his career marks. In 112 games in the majors, Gee has a 3.94 ERA. That’s not awful but it’s not anything to do jumping jacks for, either. Also, let’s see what ERAs the recent Mets’ rookie pitchers have produced in their first year in the majors:

2.73 – Harvey
3.42 – Wheeler
2.69 – deGrom

It seems most of us consider Matz to be of a similar quality to these three, all a much-better option than Gee. Even Montero, who received the fewest starts of any of the rookie pitchers and one who did not have the benefit of pitching in a normal rotation, put up a 3.98 ERA as a starting pitcher in 2014. The average fan considers Montero to be a disappointment and under less than ideal circumstances he was the equivalent of what Gee has done throughout his career pitching every fifth day.

If he were able to pitch at his lifetime averages, Gee would be an asset for many teams in the majors. It’s just that the Mets are not one of those. It’s well past time to stop running the club for the benefit of a soft tosser who only once in his career has pitched more than five games in a season in the majors and finished with an ERA under four.

Gee sounds like a guy who feels like he’s getting the short end of the stick. Perhaps he should talk to Jenrry Mejia and Carlos Torres for some perspective. Both of those guys were moved to the pen with far, far fewer chances to establish themselves as starters. Those two eventually embraced their roles as relievers and became assets to the club.

It’s time for Gee to do the same.

19 comments for “On Dillon Gee moving to the bullpen

  1. Eric
    June 7, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I’m guessing what bothers Dillon is the flip-flopping on how to handle the rotation. Otherwise, fact is he’s the odd man out, period. If this becomes all about him and his free agency then I have no sympathy.

  2. pal88
    June 7, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Great article…its time for Gee to accept the fact that with the premier young studs the Mets have, his record put him in this position..maybe a change of scenary would do him some good…Niese may get the same oppoetunity soon..its a game of what have you done lately..

  3. Chris F
    June 7, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Great perspective Brian. I couldnt agree more. Gee does not belong in the rotation entirely on baseball terms.

    But it doesnt stop there. Even according to Alderson when he spoke recently, Matz has nothing to left to prove at AAA and so he belongs here immediately — our next rotation crisis will visit us before the present one even dies down. Niese has a couple starts left to prove he belongs, because hold Matz down after Super two would be criminal.

    In my opinion, it also serves to note the significant imbalance we see on this team, with gangbusters pitching, yet positions player that look below league average.

  4. Larry Smith
    June 7, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Personally I feel bad for Gee and agree he has been mistreated and mishandled. That being said, pro sports are somewhat of a meritocracy. They don’t owe Gee a starting job and he clearly is not one of their top 5 starters. In fact he’s about 8th in the pecking order.
    What they did owe him was a commitment to trade him to a team that could use him if that team would pony up something useful for the Mets. We can’t know exactly what has been offered but must assume that it’s never been deemed enough by Alderson and his advisors.
    At this point Gee should just quietly go to the pen and hope either to be traded or for something to open up for him in Flushing because we all know that Mets players and pitchers get hurt at an alarming rate.

    • Chris F
      June 7, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Exactly. Alderson and Ricciardi have again botched the personnel in vastly overrating the value of Gee — and Niese and Colon for that matter. As a result we all saw the log jam coming but apparently the brain trust did not. And certainly they did not have a plan to manage 8 starters. So what does that leave: 2 or perhaps 3 (if you think Colon is just a waste) starters that no longer have the game to be in this rotation. However, the remainder except for deGrom are not stretched out to go 200 innings. We have an MLB ready front line guy throwing in AAA. Just what the hell is Alderson doing? Add the fact that Teflon Terry can explain anything he (or they if you add SA) does, and well, its like an Abbott and Costello routine.

      Hey the best news out of all this is that Parnell, ready or not, is getting reinstated because his 30 day rehab assignment is about to lapse. For all you Mets fans clamoring for his return over the last year, thats the same Bobby Parnell with a 14 ERA in Binghamton (info courtesy of Adam Rubin ESPN Mets blog).

  5. Peter Hyatt
    June 7, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Great article.

    I could not find the super 2 deadline, so this explains why Matz is still there.

    For some fun, take a look how Conforto is doing at AA.

    He’s now over .400 in the tiny sample, but obvious is that he is adjusting, each time he is called on to do so.

    I don’t see us winning big with TC. I don’t see him as a leader; whether or not it is neutering by the GM or not.

  6. Matt Netter
    June 7, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Gee is a competitor so I get that he’s dissapointed and frustrated. But he’s also a guy who gets paid $5 million dollars to wear cleats to work so he needs to stop whining.

  7. June 8, 2015 at 1:08 am

    The point is the Met’s can better utilize the 5 million they are wasting away on Gee who is probably the Met’s 7th best starter. Montero or Matz have so much more upside at 500,000. If the concern is for Harvey then Plan B should of been implemented. Every 7th start should be skipped. I would rather see Harvey have 28 good to above average starts then see him spend ant time on the DL with a fatigued arm. With so many better options why are the Met’s catering to Gee? To see the Met’s give up a game in the standings every time he may start. Doesn’t exactly bring out the best in the offense knowing your starter is going to implode by the 5th inning. Can Alderson call Detroit, Los Angeles or even Baltimore? You don’t need to win every trade you make. An addition by subtraction. Better harmony in the clubhouse.

  8. Metsense
    June 8, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Gee has been a solid back end starter for the Mets but he is not a better pitcher than Colon or Niese right now. According to MLBTR, there is very little interest in Gee and Niese. The Mets could use offense now. I wonder what the interest in Colon is? Matz should also be here within a month. Montero is almost ready to resuume is role as the Vegas – NY shuttle starter. They also have non prospect Duane Below available for an emergency start. The Mets can afford to trade 2 of 3 of the veterans. So, until the market heats up, Gee hopefully can contribute in the bullpen because on this staff he is just a spare part.

    • James Preller
      June 8, 2015 at 9:08 am

      I think Colon is the guy they should move, partly because he’s the only guy they can move.

      And it really surprises me that this is true. I didn’t see Bartolo as a tradeable asset in Year 2. He needs to become this season’s Marlon Byrd.

    • June 8, 2015 at 9:14 am

      Metsense, I can tell you haven’t been in the Chatters recently! We had a spirited discussion a few nights ago about this topic and one poster felt not only did Colon have no trade value but if the Mets put him on waivers that no one would claim him.

      • Chris F
        June 8, 2015 at 11:44 am

        🙂

    • June 8, 2015 at 9:38 am

      Why then sign Gee to a 5 million dollar arb. contract when there were and still are so many quality available options at a much cheaper price? I guess Alderson will wait until the trading deadline and try to have teams outbid one another for an inconsistent back end starter.

      • James Preller
        June 8, 2015 at 11:28 am

        You can also question paying Parnell $3.5 million.

        If the team is on a small-market budget, don’t you need to make some of these tough calls? It feels like Sandy doesn’t want to lose anybody, ever. Whereas the bold GMs discard and pick up, reshuffle and try again.

        When you are the NY Mets, can you afford to be this risk-averse? The answer comes down to: What are your true goals? To me, I think he’s shooting for a chance to play Game 163 and then, hey, you never know. Meaningful games in September. Mission accomplished.

        Some of us might pine for loftier goals.

        • June 9, 2015 at 12:15 am

          James Sandy’s a secret hoarder.

          • James Preller
            June 9, 2015 at 7:06 am

            Speaking of goals, Kevin Kernan tweeted that he was told by a Mets official that what they are really aiming for is 2016.

            We’ve watched this for years. The deadline keeps sliding back. Don’t be surprised when giddy fans start talking about 2017 as the year.

    • Metsense
      June 8, 2015 at 11:49 am

      There are a few contending teams that need an established fifth starter. Colon could be traded for a similar player whose contract will expire at the End of 2015.
      As an example: Victorino in Boston.

  9. Patrick Albanesius
    June 8, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    For the betterment of the Mets and Gee, he needs to be traded somewhere where is he used properly.

  10. June 9, 2015 at 12:10 am

    James I could not agree with you more. If the Met’s get a wild card then that’s just gravy. Would we be shocked if the goal was to have attendance come in at 2.2 million. Making the playoffs is not the number one priority for the Wilpons Yes they would be thrilled (additional revenue) but it’s not their main objective. If you add what they’re paying Gee, Parnell and Cuddyer that’s enough to add an impact bat in the line up. I still feel Alderson blew it. He has a core of young SP’s coming up the pipeline that are under team control. Even with a small market payroll you can apply a good portion of payroll to having 3 or 4 core offensive players. If you include Colon’s salary as well, the Met’s could and should of added a Jason Heyward type player and the payroll would of been under 100 million dollars!

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